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The Blue Room Brunch Let-down 3/11/12

Long ago, in the Blue Rm. days of Stan Frankenthaler and Steve Johnson, it was a delightful and regular dinner spot for us. We finally went back today, to test out their brunch, but to cut to the chase, I would not send anyone here for the $27 brunch buffet. While the room was sunny and comfortable and bustling , and the servers could not have been nicer, there were just too many disappointments with the food. The whole thing tasted like the work of chefs who just didn't really care.

On a buffet with perhaps 16 items, only 4 impressed me.
Pluses: The spicy tomato soup was bright and flavorful.The pork roast was some of the best I've ever had. Rosy, moist, succulent, w/ a light sweet glaze. The Patatas Bravas, which were on the brunch buffet back in the 90's, were garlic redolent, creamy roasted yum. The scrambled eggs were the best I have ever had outside of home. These were scrambled eggs as they were meant to be>>creamy creamy soft and creamy.

But the minuses: Arugula Salad with no (promised)almonds or fruit and little or no dressing, overcooked lovely sweet beets, navy beans with no flavor, plain chickpea salad, grits overcooked and flavorless save for some cheese topping, a large bowl of completely overcooked bacon, perfectly cooked but tough roast beef, boring plain roasted root veggies,uninspired roast salmon, smoked salmon with no accompaniments, no savory breads ( just sweet Iggy's rolls and brioche), and finally, plain pancakes.Plain? Plain.

The dessert table was not only unattractive- almost every item was mid-brown- but amazingly uninspired. Cookies ranged from poor to decent. A very good walnut tart. A decent raspberry cheesecake. No colorful fruit creations or salads, no chocolate, no varied textures (mousses, puddings, creme brulees,etc.)

So it's back to the East Coast Grill for us. I would much rather eat a smaller number of items that are really flavorful and excellent- than have a large variety of items of mediocre quality.

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  1. I have to say I agree with you based on an experience several months ago, and am surprised to see how many people keep recommending the Blue Room as a great brunch place. I chalk it up to memories of how it used to be, for the way I see it, their brunch has been far from great for a long while now.

    1. I had a similar experience a couple years ago and never returned. Some food was great, but most was overcooked and/or cold. I would have enjoyed the dessert table more if there wasn't a woman standing there tasting everything. I wish that they would stop with the buffet and just do a normal brunch with a menu. The inside space is great and I think the patio would make for a nice place for a leisurely brunch in warmer months.

      1 Reply
      1. re: viperlush

        Likewise.

        For a buffet brunch, it was better than average but at the end of the day it was still a buffet-based brunch w/ all the negatives that entails, and outside of being able to consume a gut busting amount of food there was little value for the dollar IMO.

      2. Dear OC
        If I was a good chowhound like you I would have written this LAST SUNDAY after a Brunch let down at the Blue Room but I was almost more annoyed by the wait staff, had to flag 3 people down to get a cup of coffee, and the woman behind me who breathed down my neck the whole time I was at the buffet, to write and complain about how much the food quality had gone down since a visit two years ago.. It's very oversold, understaffed and the food underwhelming. I thought he grits were good but I'm just a yankee so what do I know. about grits.

        1. Moral of the story: If you're getting brunch in the Kendall area, just go to Area Four.

          7 Replies
            1. re: viperlush

              Those are fine options too. I personally find the Friendly Toast to be dirty. Tables and floors are always sticky. Trash is laying around in the bar area. It really bothers me. The CBC brunch is serviceable for sure. Don't think either compare to Area Four though. That sticky bun is tremendous. I love their breakfast sausage (alone or on the breakfast sandwich). The Hot Mess is the perfect hangover meal.

              1. re: mkfisher

                I find it amusing that for years and years the complaints about the original friendly toast was that it was dirty and the servers looked the same. The kendall one is noticeably less gritty than the portsmouth one and the same complaints still follow it :)

                My only complaint about the portsmouth friendly toast is that it's slow. My complaint about the kendall one is that it is glacially slow - I refuse to go there.

                1. re: jgg13

                  Bingo! Glacially slow is precisely correct. The kitchen just can't keep up. FT has been off our list for awhile. Also, we don't care for their Cheesecake Factory like portions which are really a turn off.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    I didn't realize others complained about how dirty the Portsmouth FT was. We went in twice to the Kendall FT when we moved to the area, and won't be back. Sticky counter tops just gross me out. I could care less about the servers.

                    1. re: mkfisher

                      I haven't seen it since the Kendall one opened but it was a debate that'd show up here now and then. People would complain about the dirtiness & the greasy staff. The pro-side would claim that the naysayers were just fuddyduddys who didn't appreciate the tattoos & whatnot.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        have never been to the portsmouth friendly toast and have only had drinks at the bar at the kendall location. the few times we have gone the bar is sticky and messy. i'm not eating maple syrup so i certainly don't want my sleeve in somebody else's remains,

                        as for the tattoos and piercings, i don't care, but last time we were there the male bartender was wearing a wife-beater tanktop. yuk to armpit hair anywhere near food or an ice bin.

            2. Maybe their dinners far exceed the brunch, but i was really surprised to see The Blue Room beat out Rendezvous in this round of the Globe's Munch Madness restnt face off. Maybe BR attracts a younger crowd, given the location, and maybe the younger crowd participates more in the Munch Madness voting.

              2 Replies
              1. re: opinionatedchef

                "given the location"

                They're a 5-10 min walk from each other, I doubt that's going to be much of an impediment to any younger folks nearby.

                FWIW, I walk through 1 Kendall multiple times every day, my experience has been that BR is noticeably older (for dinner, at least) than CBC & Tommy Doyles, which I don't find surprising in the least.

                1. re: jgg13

                  Ha! I'm old (50), and I'm among the youngest in the Blue Room on any given night.

                  We go quite regularly on Reggie nights, though we stopped going to brunch there when Highland Kitchen opened. I think the food in general has changed since Jorges left. I'm not saying for the worse, because it seems OK. I preferred Jorge's cooking, however.

              2. Had brunch at the Blue Room yesterday with a party of 9. Totally positive experience for all the diners. Ages ran 11 to 80+. Service was top notch. Attentive without being overbearing. Coffee and water glasses refilled frequently, plates cleared appropriately. Pretty much the same menu selection as the poster. Food was fresh, changed frequently and very tasty according to my group that sampled virtually every option. I'm sorry opinionatedchef had a bad experience but for what it's worth my group had a very different experience.

                I, and all of my dining companions, wholeheartedly (sp?) recommend the Blue Room's brunch.